When reading about child custody and child support in Washington State, it is likely that you have read the phrase, “the best interests of the child.” But what exactly does this phrase mean, and how does the court determine it?
Very simply, determining the best interests of a child is determining the life a child should have that best preserves their wellbeing, health, and happiness. When a child’s parents divorce, separate, or break up, it can be difficult to know where that child should live, who makes decisions for the child, and who will financially support the child. A judge can look at the evidence in the case and answer these questions based on what environment and parenting plan will best benefit the child.
The best interests of a child are based on the child’s needs and—if the child is old enough and mature enough—the child’s wishes. It is important to understand that a younger child’s wishes may not be in their best interest. In fact, a parent’s wants and wishes may not be in a child’s best interest.
In Washington State, it is usually in the best interest of the child to keep an ongoing relationship with both parents, unless one parent has a potentially harmful issue, such as drug addiction or violent tendencies. Most Washington parenting plans involve joint custody and a visitation schedule, though the details of these plans vary widely from family to family.
Every parent wants what is ultimately best for their child. If you need a Seattle child custody attorney, call Molly B. Kenny today: 425-460-0550.